This past week, the CDC hosted a conference of about 2,000 people in the agency’s epidemic intelligence service. It was the first time this conference was held in-person since the pandemic started, and it appeared to take place with fairly limited (if any) COVID-19 precautions.
And at least a few of the conference’s attendees tested positive for COVID-19 afterward, according to reporting by Dan Diamond at the Washington Post. While a CDC spokesperson told Diamond that the cases are “reflective of general spread in the community” and “should not be referred to as an outbreak,” it’s obviously not a great look for the agency to have virus spread at a conference intended to celebrate progress over COVID-19.
These cases—and the CDC’s communication around them—add to a growing pattern of downplaying continued coronavirus transmission. The CDC is essentially saying it’s normal to risk COVID-19 at any large event going forward, even if that event is run by people who should, theoretically, have a good understanding of how to keep its attendees safe.
Epidemiologist Ellie Murray elaborates on this idea in a Twitter thread about the situation:
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